Preparing to welcome a new baby means having lots on your to-do list, from doctor’s appointments to shopping. Many of the things you need to purchase will end up in your nursery, but all the options can feel overwhelming, and it's hard to know what's essential, what's recommended, and what's just for show.

Once you’ve prepped a safe and cozy sanctuary for you and your infant, you’ll feel more relaxed and ready for the big day.

Check the Crib

You can opt for a mini crib or choose one that will grow with your child. Go with vertical slats and stationary sides for enhanced safety. And if you're thrifting, ensure the crib was manufactured after June 2011, when new safety standards were set.

New or old, once it's set up, run your hands around the frame and check that there aren't any rough edges or dangerous screws poking out.

Newborn baby girl sleep first days of life. Cute little newborn child sleeping peacefully NataliaDeriabina / Getty Images


Make Sure Bedding is Safe

Less is more when it comes to bedding. It can be tempting to buy all the stuffed toys that have ever existed, but soft toys don't just add clutter and more things to wash; they increase the risk of suffocation.

Choose a swaddle rather than a blanket or crib bumper to keep your little one cozy and safe, and make sure the mattress fits snugly, and as intended, in the crib.

overhead portrait of sleeping baby in dads arms Cavan Images / Getty Images


Secure Changing Table

While not a must-have, changing tables do double duty as convenient storage. You'll want to get one that's a comfortable height for you as you bend over your baby. A safety belt will keep them safe so you can feel comfortable reaching for diapers and other supplies.

Choose a model that has no chance of toppling over, ideally one that can be anchored to the wall.

Female hands fixing a diaper on a newborn lying. Family concept photo, lifestyle, close up fizkes / Getty Images


Strategically Store Essentials

New parents might not realize just how much space a tiny baby requires for all their clothing, cleaning and feeding implements, and diapers. The last thing you need is to trip over loose items in the dark, so make clean-up easy with a dresser or versatile storage.

Plan your nursery layout so that essentials are within easy reach of you and not your baby, and furniture doesn't pose a hazard. Anchor anything that could tip, and beware of toy chests with heavy lids that can slam on fingers once your baby becomes more mobile.

Father falling asleep while rocking baby to sleep in nursery in home Thomas Barwick / Getty Images


Prioritize Functionality Over Aesthetics

Think again if you have your eye on a gorgeous white glider and carpet combo. They might look minimalist and effortlessly chic now, but when the baby enters the picture, they'll be a nightmare to clean and won't age well. You might not love the finish, but slipcovers in stain-friendly colors are your friend, as are waterproof pieces and washable wallpaper.

White furniture and yellow decorations in baby room interior KatarzynaBialasiewicz / Getty Images


Consider Gadgets and Accessories

There are so many baby-related gizmos on the market these days that it can often feel overwhelming. The reality is that parents have been raising babies for millennia without the fancy high-tech stuff. When buying big-ticket items, weigh up the pros and cons, including how simple it might be to sell something your baby quickly outgrows.

Some basic accessories that may serve you well:

  • A baby monitor or smart cam to keep an eye and ear on your infant
  • A cool-mist humidifier
  • A feeding pillow
  • A diaper pail
  • A night light

Over the shoulder view of young mother monitoring her baby girl with smart home app. Smart baby CCTV. Using baby smart monitor app on mobile phone. Smart home camera. Oscar Wong / Getty Images


Find the Right Feeding Chair

You'll be spending a lot of time in this chair, so it needs to epitomize comfort and support and be padded in all the right places. Look for a wide chair that won't make noise as you sit down and get up. If the chair rocks, swivels, has a USB charging port, and a matching ottoman, all the better.

Place your feeding chair close to the crib to make putting your baby down once they fall asleep a straightforward process.

Asian mother feeding baby Andersen Ross Photography Inc / Getty Images


Don't Forget About Windows and Lighting

For safety reasons, consider a window guard and cordless blinds. Whether they're for the curtains or the electronics, keep in mind that cords are a strangling hazard.

Your blinds or curtains need to be able to mimic nighttime and block out street lights to help your baby sleep. Avoid placing the crib too near an unprotected window, both for safety and warmth.

New mother cradling her baby, who is dressed comfortably in a vest, holding him above his crib as she smiles down at him. SolStock / Getty Images


Decorate With Baby in Mind

With accessible information and better access to a wide variety of products, you can make healthier choices. For example, you can source rugs and paints that don't emit high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In addition, be mindful of where you hang art and mobiles with parts that a baby could choke on. There should be zero possibility of something falling into the crib.

Wall mockup in child room interior. Nursery Interior in scandinavian style. 3d rendering, 3d illustration Yurii Usenko / Getty Images


Stick to Your Budget

It can be easy to get carried away, but you'll be less likely to overspend on the nursery if you take some time to plan. If, however, you do end up forking out a little more than anticipated, don't beat yourself up. Navigating parenthood is a learning curve, especially for new parents.

Photo of a young expectant man, future father, assembling a baby crib in the living room, having the last preparations before baby's arrival. hobo_018 / Getty Images


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